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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  January 5, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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>> all of those fans are like we came here to get away from that. more local news with us on nbc bay area at 6:00. on this sunday night, breaking news. deadly plane crash in aspen, colorado. we're live with the latest. dangerously cold. snow, ice and brutal subzero weather blankets half the country tonight with warnings now of life threatening conditions. raging battle. government forces launch a major offensive after al qaeda linked fighters overrun two key cities in iraq. will the u.s. get involved? and knockout arrest. a suspect is charged in a wave of knockout attacks. what's being done to stop this crime wave now in several states. good evening. the latest on that dangerous cold in a moment. first some breaking news.
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authorities confirm one person is dead and two others hospitalized after the crash of a small plane in aspen, colorado. authorities say the plane flipped over and burst into flames at the aspen-pitkin county airport where landing can be extremely tricky. nbc's leanne gregg joins us. >> reporter: good evening, carl. among pilots, aspen has long been known as a difficult place to land, especially in the winter. all day in colorado it has been snowy and blustery. moments after impact, a plume of smoke filled the air. a private plane crash at the aspen airport in colorado claimed one life, sending the two other passengers aboard to the hospital. witnesses inside the terminal saw it all. >> we all just looked out the glass window. i just saw it in the air. it didn't even look like a plane, it was just a fully engulfed fire ball coming in, and literally, it came in and just dropped onto the ground on the runway. >> reporter: when rescue teams
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reached the twin engine jets, smoke was pouring from the fuselage. comedian kevin nealon was there tweeting. horrible plane crash here at aspen airport. exploded into flames as it was landing. i think it was a private jet. singer leann rimes was also at the scene. so sad. horrible plane crash we just saw happen at the aspen airport. the 1994 canada air jet originated its flight in mexico but stopped first in tucson before heading to aspen. its flight path showed the pilot circled the airport at least once, calling into traffic control. >> missed approach. november 1-1-5 whiskey fox. 33 knots tail wind. >> reporter: it was snowing. wind gusts topping 30 miles an hour. >> okay to return back and do another approach. we've had a tail wind of 30 knots. >> reporter: the plane circled back but something went wrong. >> it was coming in from the side, fully engulfed. i was just like, wow. you couldn't even tell it was a plane. >> reporter: early reports
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indicate there was no mayday call. >> proceed to the downed aircraft. >> getting aligned with the runway which you can normally do from quite a distance out is not nearly as easily done in aspen. >> reporter: tonight the ntsb is sending investigators to the scene. the search for clues in a deadly crash. the survivors remain hospitalized. one in serious condition. the other suffered minor injuries. carl? >> thank you. a big part of the country is bracing for some of the coldest weather we've seen in two decades. temperatures of 20 or 30 below zero could hit the midwest before moving south and east. our team has it covered tonight. we begin our coverage with nbc's kevin tibbles in minneapolis/st. paul. kevin, good evening. >> reporter: here in minneapolis/st. paul and across much of the heartland the national weather service is calling it a particularly dangerous situation. as the temperatures plummet they're urging people to stay indoors and take precautions. it hasn't been this cold in decades.
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>> we've never experienced weather this cold. ever. >> reporter: an arctic front sent temperatures plunging 30 to 50 degrees below average across the midwest leaving 25 states in temperatures zero or lower. unrelenting snow battered parts of the plains and great lakes. in indiana, up to two inches of snow every hour throughout the day. chicago saw seven inches overnight while michigan got up to ten. the mayor of indianapolis warning residents to stay indoors. >> temperatures that are potentially deadly or certainly life-altering. >> reporter: the st. louis fire chief asking residents to watch out for one another. >> pay attention to your neighbors. see what they need and take care of them. >> reporter: states are taking unprecedented measures to keep people out of the cold. for the first time in 17 years, classes at minnesota public schools canceled. in st. paul, parks and sledding hills closed. the elderly and the homeless are
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at the greatest risk. emergency workers are on high alert to help the most vulnerable. youth centers pressed to provide overnight stay to homeless kids afraid of sleeping in adult shelters. >> the youth are here now from 8:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. >> the frigid conditions have also paralyzed air travel. more than 3,000 flights canceled and another 6,000 delayed. clogging hubs like denver, chicago and even florida. boston's logan airport saying it will take days to catch up. in new york, jfk was shut down for hours after a plane skidded off an icy runway. black ice being blamed for pileups in new york, maryland and pennsylvania. >> cars are just spinning out. this is ridiculous. >> reporter: but in green bay, the cold didn't keep tens of thousands of fans away from the packers/49ers game. >> wisconsin natives. we can't help it. >> reporter: the fans are ready but it will be dangerously cold. 5 degrees at game time.
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it will feel like minus 15. but the coldest air is still yet to come. tomorrow with the windchill it will feel like 50 degrees below zero. >> reporter: the arctic blast is headed east where icestorm warnings have been issued in virginia, maryland and d.c. >> reporter: with wind gusts topping 35 miles an hour, windchills are dropping below 40 below zero. how cold is that? well, the smithsonian says that is colder than it is on mars. and mars is a lot further away from the sun than we are. >> kevin tibbles in minneapolis, thanks. weather channel meteorologist mike seidel is in indianapolis where it has been snowing for more than 12 hours. mike? >> reporter: good evening. we saw nearly a foot of snow so far and now they've almost hit their seasonal average and it is only early january. it has been 30 degrees, a heavy wet snow that has knocked down trees on power lines and about 35,000 customers are without power tonight.
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that's not good. when the polar vortex is coming into the lower 48, that is a big blob of bitter air, the coldest on the continent. that will send temperatures here down to 15 below zero. 50 degrees colder than they were this morning. windchills, 70 degrees colder on monday than they were this morning and carl, you can get frostbite tomorrow in as easily as five minutes. about everything tomorrow has thrown in the towel. schools and government offices. we'll be out here and you betcha, we'll have more layers than we have on now. >> we know you will. mike seidel in indianapolis, thanks. al roker is tracking the storm. what can we see over the next few days? >> we won't see any relief until around thursday. you can see mike will be in the snow for a while longer in indianapolis and we're seeing ice start to form in central new york and central pennsylvania. here's what we've got. another three to six inches from indianapolis into detroit, into the eastern great lakes. some areas, 9 to 12 inches and
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ice, dangerous ice anywhere from a tenth of an inch to up a half an inch in central new england. here's what's going on. we right now have this polar vortex. this is brutally cold air from the center part of the arctic. it has now broken loose. think of this as an arctic hurricane. the winds in a counterclockwise direction pushing that brutally cold air all the way as far south as florida. in fact, 30 states are under winter weather advisories. they're under windchill warnings, windchill advisories, windchill watches from the dakotas down to texas and florida. chicago, by early tomorrow morning it will feel like 43 below. chicago schools are closed for tomorrow. tulsa, 11 below. it will feel like 11 below in cincinnati. during the day it will only get up to 18 below in minneapolis. it will feel like 43 below. and then on tuesday morning, look at this. the big chill hits the east coast. 16 below in new york. feel like 15 below in
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washington, 8 below in raleigh. the good news, there is a break coming finally later this week, the polar vortex will head to the north. it will release its grip on the country and then warmer zonal winds will come in from the west and bring in more milder temperatures. we'll update you tomorrow morning from this very studio on "wake up with al" and then studio 1a on "today" at 7:00. there's some growing concern about iraq now that al qaeda linked fighters have overrun two key cities in anbar province. fallujah and ramadi. the iraqi government is facing a major test as it forces to regain control of those cities. the latest now from duncan golestani. >> reporter: for nearly a week there have been clashes in iraq's anbar province. the iraqi military struggling to regain control, fighting street by street. trying to recapture large areas that fell to al qaeda links.
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iraqi forces using their air power to attack the infamous radicals. but those same al qaeda linked militants boast they're also overrunning the city of fallujah. armed men claimed to have destroyed government vehicles. the two cities are mainly sunni muslim. and the shiite dominated government in baghdad. they say they'll punish those who are linked to the sectarian government. after the 2003 u.s.-led invasion of iraq, fallujah was the center of the insurgency. american troops fought hard to root out extremists. now the u.s. has pulled out of iraq so it is up to the iraqi government. >> the iraqis can retake fallujah but they'll have to commit a lot of resources to do it and even more resources to hold on to it. >> reporter: the iraqi prime minister says there will be no retreat until they have eliminated the militants. >> this is a fight that belongs to the iraqis. that is exactly what the president and the world decided some time ago when we left iraq.
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so we are not obviously contemplating returning. we're not contemplating putting boots on the ground. this is their fight. we're going to help them in their fight. >> reporter: the al qaeda group is trying to create a sunni stronghoed that would stretch across iraq and into syria. more bombings today in the capital of baghdad. this is shaping up to be another deadly year in iraq. just this week the united nations reported 2013 the highest death toll in six years. duncan golestani, nbc news, london. president obama is back at the white house this evening following his 15-day vacation in hawaii and he has a long list of priorities as congress also returns this week. our kristen welker joins us from the white house. kristen, what's at the top of the president's to-do list? >> reporter: well, president obama will aim to reboot his presidency this year after iraqi 2013. the first item will be extending unemployment insurance benefits, and election year politics will play a big role in almost every fight this year.
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back from sunny hawaii, president obama returned to a much colder and less friendly washington, d.c. this morning. a fitting backdrop as he gears up for the first fight of 2014, extending unemployment benefits which expired in december for 1.3 million americans who have been out of work for six months or longer. in his weekly media message, mr. obama blamed republicans for leaving those benefits out of last month's budget deal. >> denying families that security is just plain cruel. we're a better country than that. >> reporter: on monday the senate will vote on a proposal to extend the benefits for three months. many republicans say they will only support it if the $6.5 billion price tag is offset by spending cuts. >> i've always said that i'm not opposed to unemployment insurance. i'm opposed to having it without paying for it. >> reporter: the president will renew his call for an increase in the minimum wage in his state of the union address. another piece of democratic strategy designed to paint republicans as the party of the
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rich ahead of the fall elections. >> we want to make sure this recovery leaves no one behind. that we deal with economic inequality. >> reporter: while the president will also continue pushing for immigration reform, his biggest political priority will be to shift the narrative on health care. the administration has recovered after an initial rocky rollout, but republicans see nagging problems with the affordable care act as their winning campaign issue. >> people thought government had gone too big, too expansive and too a part of our lives and obamacare was kind of the last straw. >> reporter: there is some cautious optimism growing out of last month's budget deal that democrats and republicans will be able to find some common ground in 2014. one possible sign? house speaker john boehner has expressed a willingness to work on immigration reform. >> kristen welker in washington tonight, kristen, thanks. former first lady barbara bush is back home this evening. the 88-year-old mrs. bush was released from a houston hospital yesterday after spending nearly a week there being treated for pneumonia.
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she is home just in time to celebrate her 69th wedding anniversary with former president george h.w. bush tomorrow. pope francis will visit the holyland in may. he made his announcement during his bookly -- weekly sunday blessing in st. peter's square. he plans to travel to israel and the west bank and jordan may 24-26. it will be his first visit ever to the region. when nightly news continues this sunday, the outrageous crime wave that has spread to several states and what's being done to stop it. and later the riveting story of a team of navy s.e.a.l.s and what happened when their covert mission in afghanistan went wrong.
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we're back about an arrest in the wave of the so-called knockout game attacks that has authorities around the country concerned that they may be spreading. we get the latest from nbc's kristen dahlgren. >> reporter: they are brazen attacks on unsuspecting pedestrians. knocked out with a single punch. the video often posted online by attackers with no apparent fear of getting caught. mark was simply walking in new york with his wife and daughter two weeks ago. >> at around 5:00 in the afternoon, i was attacked by a young man with no notice. >> reporter: while the man who attacked him is still at large, in brooklyn, 35-year-old barry baldwin is facing charges for what police say were five attacks on mostly jewish women, each with a single punch to the back of the head. >> someone who would attack a
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20-year-old girl on the way to a friend's on the sabbath, on saturday, someone who would attack a 70-year-old woman, the only way to deal with it is to apprehend those who are guilty and be very tough. >> reporter: baldwin was originally charged with hate crimes. those charges were later downgraded. in texas last month the department of justice filed hate crime charges against conrad alvin barrett for allegedly assaulting a 79-year-old african-american man and making a videotape saying he was looking for a black victim to get national media attention. barrett's lawyer said he was off his medication and makes no excuses. >> this isn't about a game at all. this is very serious and there have been some very serious injuries throughout the country. >> reporter: many states are now looking to crack down. lawmakers in oklahoma and illinois are moving to make knockouts a felony instead of a misdemeanor. wisconsin may charge the person filming an attack and new york and new jersey are both considering upping prison time
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for those convicted in a knockout. which means someone like the person who attacked mark could get up to 25 years. >> i was angry at first and then i was pretty, actually, sad that someone would think that this is amusing, that it is acceptable to just go up and punch someone. >> reporter: disturbing attacks that officials are now looking to knock out for good. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york. up next, the miracle on a new york city highway.
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an amazing scene as a small plane made an emergency landing yesterday afternoon on one of the busiest highways in the new york city area, the major deegan expressway. the plane was on a sight-seeing flight when it lost power. luckily a pothole repair crew noticed the plane descending and stopped traffic so it could land. the plane clipped some tree tops and skidded to a stop but none of the three people on board were hurt. tourists all over the world
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came to the city in china for the official opening of the annual international snow and ice festival. it features magnificent ice structures replicating architecture from around the globe including rome's coliseum and temples in asia. more than 10,000 workers built the structures over the past couple weeks. no chance they'll melt it. it was minus 20 degrees fahrenheit there today. a u.s. coast guard ice breaker is on its way to the south pole to help free the russian and chinese ships trapped in the ice. the chinese icebreaker got stuck trying to free the russian research ship. the coast guard said the 399 foot ice breaker, the polar star, left this morning from australia and should arrive in the antarctic in about a week. in seattle, washington, a major mystery is solved. officials now believe they know what stopped big bertha, the world's largest tunnel boring machine, in its tracks last month. they say the culprit appears to be a 119-foot long eight inch diameter steel pipe. it had been installed in 2002
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but workers on the current project didn't realize it was there. meantime it is unclear when big bertha will be up and running again. still ahead, the new movie that tells the compelling story of a navy s.e.a.l. mission in afghanistan that turned tragic.
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finally tonight the title says it all. "lone survivor." the true story of a navy s.e.a.l. mission in afghanistan that went terribly wrong. now it is a new movie. lester holt talked with the real
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life navy s.e.a.l. who survived that mission. >> we're heading back. >> reporter: it is not just a war movie. not for marcus latrell. >> you have to understand, i went through it in real life. >> reporter: certainly not for the families of those who didn't come home like lieutenant michael murphy's mom. >> i saw the first 30 minutes. my other son he went over and tapped me and said, okay, mom, this is where you have to leave. >> reporter: marcus played by actor mark wahlberg was the only member of a four-man navy s.e.a.l. element to survive after they were compromised during a mission to hunt down a taliban commander. when goat herders came upon their hideout, the choices were to kill them for their own security or free them, knowing they would alert local insurgents. >> when it goes bad it usually goes real bad. we made a decision to turn them loose, turn them loose and deal with the consequences. >> reporter: sadly outnumbered,
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the s.e.a.l.s were hunted down and killed one by one battling to the end. including the team's leader, lieutenant murphy who was posthumously awarded the medal of honor. he willingly exposed himself to enemy fire in order to establish radio contact and make a desperate call for help. >> it's bittersweet, definitely. you're so proud of him but you would trade it back in a minute to get him back. >> reporter: for the murphys, the film evokes pride and anguish. >> it is emotional and it pulls at you but it also tells a great story. >> reporter: the team's would be rescuers, eight more s.e.a.l.s and eight army night stalkers died when their chopper was shot down. latrell meantime, badly wounded, unable to walk, found refuge in an afghan village where the taliban fought to capture him. >> i never thought about giving up. i never thought about quitting. the only way to defeat me is to kill me. >> just remarkable. just glad that i get to sit here next to him.
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>> reporter: as brutal as the action in the movie is, it was important to latrell that the filmmakers get it right. >> just like that. >> i would expect from the families that they would want this as authentic as possible to represent how hard their sons fought and died. >> reporter: it was a dark chapter in a long war. and now a movie that honors those who fought and those who still fight it. how do you want people to feel when they see this movie? >> i want them to have a greater appreciation for what those guys do. they're heroes and they deserve that treatment. >> reporter: lester holt, nbc news, new york. >> that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. brian williams will be here tomorrow. stay tuned next for a special edition of "dateline." with lester holt's hidden camera investigation. i'm carl quintanilla reporting from new york. from all of us here at nbc news, good night.
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good evening. we begin tonight with the developing story brutally cold weather that could affect your workweek if it include:aajs tra. hundreds of flights are canceled just as folks are trying to get home from the holidays. some here at our bay area airports. we have team coverage for you tonight, but first, we go to -- live at sfo. how are the travelers dealing with this setback? >> they're doing the best they can. an airport spokesman says a

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